The NBA Playoffs are underway but Kobe Bryant -- who retired a year ago -- is barely paying attention. He's got other things on his mind, like beating Gatorade.
Bryant is a major investor in six-year-old startup sports drink brand BodyArmor, which is about to launch its largest ad campaign to date, including its first TV ad. Bryant is the creative director and narrator of the campaign, which includes appearances by nine pro athletes.
This is not a case of a celebrity simply lending his name to a project for PR value. Bryant is intimately involved in BodyArmor's marketing, just like he has provided his creative input on Nike ads over the years. He even had a major role in crafting BodyArmor's tagline, "Obsession is Natural," which is a play on BodyArmor's product pitch that it is made from natural flavors and sweeteners and is not colored with artificial sources.
Bryant said he first wrote the line on a BodyArmor-branded towel that he he used last year in his final game when he poured in 60 points in a win over the Utah Jazz. He autographed the towel for BodyArmour co-founder Mike Repole and wrote the phrase on the towel because he thought it summed up his obsession for basketball and Repole's obsession with entrepreneurship and building companies.
"I stepped back and I looked at it and I was like, huh, Mike, I just came up with our line. I just came up with our company ethos," Bryant said in an interview with Ad Age.
The theme of the campaign is the role obsession plays for athletes. The spot includes appearances by Dustin Johnson, James Harden, Mike Trout, Anthony Rizzo, Andrew Luck, Richard Sherman, Dez Bryant, Kristaps Porzingis and Skylar Diggins. The ad is shot in black-in-white with the exception of bottles of BodyArmor, which the athletes drink at the end of grueling workouts.
PepsiCo-owned Gatorade, which has a huge market share lead on BodyArmor, has long used athletes in its ads with an A-list roster that has recently included Usain Bolt, J.J. Watt, Bryce Harper, Serena Williams and Cam Newton. Asked to contrast BodyArmor's creative approach to Gatorade, Bryant said that his brand is trying to create a "movement."
"It's one thing to inspire athletes to want to be great and you see a lot of brands doing that," he said. "What we are trying to do instead is challenge. And there's a big difference between inspiring and challenging."
He added: "We live in a day and age now where kids are surrounded by instant gratification." But "in sports you can't do that."
Read the full story on Adage.com.